A Time for Mercy and a Time for Judgment
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
To remind the faithful of the urgent need to respond to God’s tender mercies, St. Alphonsus de Liguori told a story that he learned from reading an account given by Tritemius and Camsius. Tritemius and Camsius recount the story of a man named Udo from the Saxon city of Magdeburg, who was so untalented and unlearned as a child that he was the object of derision among his peers.
Our Lady assists Udo & he is made Bishop of Magdeburg
Now, on one particularly discouraging day, Udo sought solace in prayer before an icon of the Most Holy Virgin. Mary visited him in his dreams, promising to comfort him. She pledged to obtain heavenly graces for him and that she would shield him from ridicule and even earn him admiration. When the Bishop of Magdebury died, Mother Mary promised that Udo would succeed him as Bishop—a remarkable promise! This is what Mary prophesied, and it came to pass. Udo advanced in the knowledge of God and eventually became the city’s Bishop.
Udo, however, was so indifferent to God’s grace and to Mary’s intercession that he gave himself over to a life of moral decadence and became a disgrace among his people. Ungrateful for all the Lord had done for him and the special graces Our Lady had aquired for him, as he lay in bed with a particularly wicked partner one night, he heard a voice say, “Udo, cease this sinful pastime; you have sinned enough.”
He considered these comments as a reprimand and was initially annoyed by them. But when he heard it again the next night, and the night after that, he started to worry that it was a voice from above. Despite this, he persisted in his evil ways. God gave him three months to change his ways before meting out his punishment. There is a time for mercy. But if we are unrepentant, we should expect a severe judgment.
The empty Church fills with judges from Heaven.
A devoted canon called Frederick was praying one night in the Church of St. Maurice for God to wipe away the scandal that Udo had caused when, lo and behold, the door to the Church was blown open by a gust of wind. Two young men walked in carrying lit torches and positioned themselves on either side of the High Altar. Then two more came and set a carpet in front of the High Altar and two golden thrones on it.
After him came a young man dressed in military garb, brandishing a sword. He stopped in the center of the Church and proclaimed,
“Oh ye Saints of Heaven, whose relics are preserved in this Church, come to assist at the great trial of justice which the Sovereign Judge is about to execute.”